Widespread Mercury Poisoning Evident in Impoverished Indonesian Mining Communities
17 March 2015
(Jakarta) A preliminary exploration of the impact of mercury use in three Indonesian artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) communities found that one-third of the people in one community satisfied WHO guidelines for mercury poisoning along with many children with birth defects, nervous system damage and delayed development.
“In the mining communities, families keep mercury under the bed, in the drawer, and in the kitchen,” said Yuyun Ismawati, Senior Advisor of BaliFokus. “It is very clear that the use and trade of mercury in ASGM is harming people and should be stopped immediately. Countries like Indonesia with ASGM communities, should ratify the Minamata Treaty immediately, promote safer alternatives, and regulate this sector, to avoid a greater crisis in Indonesia as families struggle to eat and live.”
Photo (right): Fikri, 7, from Sekotong. Fikri's father is a miner. In his neighbourhood, mercury-added ballmills operate 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. He began to show abnormalities when he was 4-6 months old and these days he has difficulty gripping the handles of his bike.By Yuyun Ismawati.